|Index||7 reviews in total|
The Last Express
Published in 1997 by Broderbund, re-published in 2000 by Interplay
The Last Express is my favorite game. You've probably never never heard of it, well, most people haven't. The game was helmed by the legendary Jordan Mechner, father of the Prince of Persia series. Jordan and his team at Smoking Car Productions spent four years on the game, only to have their publisher close it's doors on the eve of it's release, thus the marketing for the game was minimal, and though it was hailed as a masterpiece by CNN, MSNBC, and Games Domain it sold very few copies. It was picked up and re-published in 2000 by Interplay, but the sales just weren't there. Once again it was discontinued. The game has been out of print for years now, and is fast becoming rare, though you can still get it through the "Used and New" section of amazon.com.
Story: The Last Express is set on the Orient Express in July 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War. Enter our hero, Robert Cath, a mysterious American who was supposed to meet his friend Tyler Whitney at the Paris train station. Missing the train, Cath jumps aboard via a motercycle sidecar. He carries nothing but a newspaper clipping with a description of a wanted criminal who sounds suspiciously like himself. Quickly he makes his way to Tyler's compartment. He finds his friend dead, murdered! And thus Cath assumes the identity of Tyler Whitney in an attempt to catch his killer, and evade his own past. I won't spoil any more of the plot for you, it's best discovered on your own.
The Game: Most of the game is seen through the a first person perspective, though whenever you have conversation with someone, pick something up, interact with the environment, or get into a fight, it's seen in the third person. The Last Express is not a traditional adventure game. There are none of the annoying, illogically placed puzzles of most games in the genre. Playing the Last Express feels like stepping right into a really good old film, it has a feel to it very reminiscent of Casablanca, or The Third Man. The puzzles in the Last Express are the characters, they are all complicated and interesting, the German industrialist, the British spy, the young Russian anarchist, the old servant of the Czar, his 16 year old granddaughter, and a beautiful and mysterious Austrian violinist. These are just a few of the characters in the game, all of which are fully fleshed out. You can eavesdrop on their conversations or walk up and speak to them. The entire game is in real time, and takes place over the course of three days, as the train hurdles through Europe. This adds an interesting feel to the game, as things are happening all the time even if you aren't there. I will say right now that The Last Express has the greatest story and dialogue of any game I have ever played, it is of the same quality as a great movie, or a classic book. There is murder, political intrigue, suspense, characters who are not what they seem, fist fights, and even romance. The character of Robert Cath makes for a fantastic protagonist, at first we are unaware of his motivations, but all becomes clear as the game progresses. There is no saving system in the Last Express, the game simply remembers where you are when you quit, and you can rewind time to undo past mistakes.
Sound: The actors all do a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. The main character is very well done, as are all the supporting characters, many of whom speak in French, Russian or German (There are subtitles for these languages, though there are no subtitles for languages such as Arabic, or Serbo-croation, which Cath does not understand). And the music is the finest I've ever heard in the game. The mournful violin, and tragic piano are perfectly to the game's setting and style.
Graphics: The graphics are in the Art Nouveau style of the historical period, which may seem a little odd at first, but somehow they really work brilliantly for the game. The characters are detailed and expressive, and the beauty and extravagance of a 1914 luxury train is captured perfectly.
In Conclusion: The game may be out of print, though, as I said before, you still can get copies through Amazon.com or Ebay. I highly reccommed that you do what is necessary get your hands on this game. I believe The Last Express is a textbook example of what gaming should be.
Without a doubt the greatest adventure game I have ever played.
10 out of 10
This game had a hard time being widely accepted, as it came out at a
time when the gaming industry was hyping cutting edge graphics, and
more thoughtful (but less graphically exciting) games like this were
This is a beautifully crafted game that takes the player back in time to an earlier era. The story takes place in the last days before the Great War changed the face of Europe forever. You are a rogue American adventurer named Robert Cath, and all the action takes place aboard the Orient Express on its final trip from Paris to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul).
Players will first notice that the game uses a sort of stop-motion comic-book style of animation. This is the game's only serious hurdle. Some folks dislike it, others don't mind it at all. I thought it added to the game, as the Art Nouveau style of the graphics lent the requisite old-fashioned air to a game set in Europe in the early years of the 20th Century. Had it been made using a more modern style, I feel it would have lost something. As it is, the visual choice that the developers made seems perfect for the period and serve to draw you deeper into the story.
Another choice the developers made was to make all the game action take place in real time. Again, this choice may be disliked by players who want fast-paced excitement all the time. At certain periods you have time to just drink in the atmosphere of Europe on the brink of war. This is part of the game's allure. It's a game for people who like to change into a robe on a winter's evening, set a roaring fire in the fireplace and curl up in an overstuffed armchair with a well-written historical novel.
The game presents players with a traditional adventure story, and a rich and deeply involving one at that. The action starts in a Paris train station, and you are soon aboard the Orient Express. As you board the train you have no idea what the next 48 hours will bring, but you will be called on to perform deeds that will determine the very future of Europe. As the story unfolds, you are torn between your allegiance to yourself and your responsibility to save Europe as it plunges into chaos. You will experience adventure, the temptation of riches, love, and tragedy as the Orient Express takes you inexorably towards your destiny.
This game is probably the best game I have ever played. I have owned it for 10 years and I've had it on my hard drive all of that time. In terms of atmosphere and story it is unmatched. I am not ashamed to say that it is the only game I've ever played that has made me weep for the characters. Emotionally engaging, deep and ultimately unforgettable, for me this is the perfect game.
This is an excellent PC game set sometime around World War I. I bought the
game a few years ago now, it is hard to find. If you are interested in
Adventure and war PC games I suggest trying to find this master
This is the best computer game I have ever played. It's so evocative
and you really feel as though you are there in the train, observing
everything and everyone! The details are so rich and accurate - I saw
pictures of the actual Orient Express carriages in a book and
recognised everything! The other characters are all intriguing and the
possibility of unrestricted eavesdropping is fantastic. I remember
deliberately hanging around Sophie and Rebecca out of a sordid desire
to find out all the ins-and-outs of their relationship! And the others
were all so well-rounded and complex even though they slotted into what
might appear to be clichéd roles such as the Russian anarchist, the
doomed Tatiana, enigmatic Anna the Serbian terrorists and the smug
little French family heading to Abadan. Oh they transcenced their
stereotypes all right. In some ways I'd love to play a game that just
involved listening in to a much larger trainload of characters! I have
often longed to find a game in a similar style but covering a different
set of circumstances - the search has been in vain. "Titanic-Adventure
out of Time" makes a fair stab at it but it is flawed compared to "The
Anyway thank goodness I bought this game when it was available all those years ago and that I still possess it and the box it came in. I also sent off for the official guide which is a good thick book full of valuable extra information and pictures. I wouldn't sell either for any money!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How did one of the greatest computer games of all time go out of print
and out of memory so quickly? How did the creator of the successful
"Prince of Persia" wind up with a flop on his hands? There are simple
questions to both of these answers, but there is nothing simple about
the total lack of progress that has been undergone to make up for lost
The only thing that still keeps "The Last Express" alive is its incredibly small legion of fans worldwide, all of whom still cherish the game that fortunately was able to make its way into their homes. And these fans want more. More of what, exactly? Perhaps a sequel. Perhaps that printing of the game start resuming again, despite the fact that it has been aging for over a decade now. Maybe a movie adaptation, since the game is almost like a movie itself. Yet all of these requests go unanswered. This is a shame, especially because the failure of "The Last Express" to be commercially successful on the markets during its initial release in 1997 was not at all due to the quality of the game itself. What killed "The Last Express" was Broderbund's limited marketing of their product, and, ultimately, the acquiring of Broderbund itself by The Learning Company, which was not at all interested in continuing the sale of such a violent, complex computer game over the more educational and child-based products still swarming their shelves. Thus, Jordan Mechner's fascinating game- which could have been a hit if it had been sold by a more focused and financially secure company- was dashed into oblivion. A well-written script by Mechner and Tomi Pierce went unseen, and years of hard labor over graphics, historical detail and voiceovers all died in vain.
What we are left with is a game that, if its fans still support it, will live on and carry a legacy. There is still hope for "The Last Express". This is not only a great computer game but, also, an amazing work of historical fiction. The player takes on the role of the American doctor Robert Cath, whose troubles with the IRA and a subsequent framing for murder have sent him packing. Now, in the year 1914, he has found the finest invitation for escape- a telegram from his friend Tyler Whitney, who invites Cath to join him on a first-class Orient Express train ride that will take them all the way to Constantinople. When Cath finally boards the train (illegally), he is horrified to find Tyler murdered in his compartment. With no way to consult the conductors without being a suspect or being recognized by authorities, Cath exhausts all options and assumes the identity of Tyler himself, in an attempt to find and trap his killer during the long train ride.
"The Last Express" is filled with a splendid array of characters on the train, many of whom are stereotypes and representatives of the countries preparing for the upcoming chaos that is World War One. You have August Schmidt, a jolly, mischievous German industrialist; Alexei Dolnikov, a radial Russian anarchist; Tatiana Obolensky, the daughter of the elderly czar; Anna Wolff, a Jewish violinist who slowly becomes your love interest throughout the game; Milos, a Serbian terrorist who enlists your help at a pivotal point in time; Kronos, a mysterious African lord occupying the private car; and other colorful figures. Among the voice talents is St. Louis filmmaker George Hickenlooper, who has a minor but very funny voice-over as a cranky cook.
Some critics and players have complained that parts of the game are slow moving with little happening during the nonlinear time period, but to me this is only necessary, as it gives the more slow-moving players enough time to complete tasks. Others have raged over the minimal clues provided to help you make progress, and I would agree- perhaps the only flaw of "The Last Express" is that it at times expects too much from the player based on their ability to solve riddles o, especially, to be at the right place at the right time. The game also loses suspense towards the end, at which point it seems to get rather heavy on melodramatics. But then again, this is a computer game, after all, so the cut scenes don't exactly matter as much as the gameplay.
So, what to do with the fans who have so warmly embraced this masterpiece? What Jordan Mechner owe to the people who want to see more of the adventures of Robert Cath? Many have pined for a sequel, some suggesting that Cath now be taken to solve mysteries onboard another train, or maybe even a ship. But the obvious solution right now is that "The Last Express" deserves a motion picture adaptation. Filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Ridley Scott, Fernando Meirelles, Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron all have the kind of sensibilities that would fit perfectly with adapting this game to the screen. For now, the fate of "The Last Express" remains in the hands of its minimal number of fans worldwide, who must start doing everything possible to bring it back to the limelight!
Set on the Orient Express in 1914, this game is from the beginning
completely different from anything you have seen before.
Through the story, you are led by the young American doctor, Robert Cath, who is urgently contacted by his old friend, Tyler Whitney, to join him on the Orient Express, crossing Europe from Paris to Constantinople. Robert, being assumed as a fugitive and wanted for mixing up in an exchange of fire with IRA in Ireland, accepts his friend proposition for escape. If only he knew then what were Tyler's reasons for going on to that train...
Game starts at Gare de l'Est, East train station in Paris on 24th July, almost a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Our hero, to avoid the police, reaches the train in the countryside little after the departure with a help of a young motorcyclist. His first goal is to find Tyler. There's where you step in.
The graphics of this game are unique, process used to input live actors into the games, known as Rotoscope, was used. The results is realistic animation, and the feel that you are on the train. Hand-drawings of train, rooms, made by the pictures one of the last remaining trains, off the track in Athens, which crew visited.
Voice acting is fairly good, there is no lip synching, but voices fit extremely well to the actors, even if most of them weren't given by the people who were used in Rotoscope process. Languages spoken on the train are English, French, German, Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Arabic. Cath understands first four of those languages, so the subtitles appear in the lower part of screen (except for English).
Music, the strongest point of this game thought by many. Original soundtrack was composed and orchestrated by Elia Cmiral, famous Czech composer. Music is mainly inspired by romance, mystery and sadness of the game. Violin play is extraordinary. Music fits extremely well into every aspect of the game.
Story, dialogs - absolutely remarkable. There are wealth of dialogs to be overheard, and the story will surely not leave you melancholic, as by the end you will understand the other part of the story that evoke on the beginning, with many questions and historical lesson.
A game you should definitely play.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The moment I fell in love with this adventure game came early on -
almost the first scene, in fact. You stumble into a cabin of the
Orient-Express only to find your friend murdered. Shocked, you get rid
of the corpse and get out of the cabin; the train conductor sees you
and screams. You're covered with blood - well, you DID just handle a
bloody corpse, didn't you? Sorry, game over. Next time, you'll remember
to check yourself in the mirror and have a quick wash in the bathroom
before opening that door. And also to pay more attention to things one
wouldn't normally consider in a game, like hiding valuable items when
you leave your cabin.
The game is full of brilliant touches. Premise and setting are fantastic - a detective story on the Orient-Express during its last journey before the onset of World War I, with a group of fascinating individuals and a murder mystery to solve. Also notable is the use of different languages (the protagonist understands some, which get subtitled). Events unfold in real time: you often have to be at the right place at the right time, with an efficient save system which makes the hit-and-miss gameplay never frustrating. A few action scenes with quick time events are irritating, but they're balanced out by the engrossing plot and characters - Russian noblemen, anarchists, hot violinists and arms dealers.
The denouement features a weird genre shift - more Philip K. Dick than Agatha Christie - but the epilogue is memorably bittersweet.
An underrated gem.
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